National finals for young star

James Burrage, 18, who is through to the final of the Open Mic UK singing competition. ANL-140312-133702001
James Burrage, 18, who is through to the final of the Open Mic UK singing competition. ANL-140312-133702001
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A budding singer/song writer will perform the biggest gig of his life when he takes to the stage at Birmingham’s NEC in the national Open Mic final.

Music student James Burrage, from Colne Engaine, decided to take part in the Open Mic UK competition on a bit of a whim, finding it while trawling the internet one evening.

Having made it through a first audition, local quarter finals and regional finals, the 18-year-old now faces 19 other competitors, knowing the next performance could change his life, with previous winners including the UK top 10 selling artist Birdy.

James, who lives in Brook Street, said he was shocked to get through to the final.

Studying music at the Colchester Institute, he hopes the competition could lead him into a career in the industry.

“I’m rubbish at everything else so I’ll stick to what I know,” he said.

In the build-up to the big night at the NEC on January 24, James is planning to play as many gigs as possible.

Next up, he is performing at The Five Bells in Great Cornard on December 12, from 9pm. “I just want to share my music,” he said. “I’m trying to gain as much interest as possible.”

His first EP is available for download and James said he hoped the competition would give him the platform to succeed.

Not only is there a £5,000 top prize but important members of the music industry will be keenly watching in the stands.

James is a relatively newcomer to the world of music, having taken up the guitar following a football accident which left with him with a broken leg at the age of 11.

Boredom and pressure from his dad, himself a keen musician, led James to pick up the instrument, and he says he has not stopped playing since.